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50 For 50 [3 Discs]


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  • With five decades behind them, there are certainly plenty of career overviews and compilations to be had for listeners looking to indulge in the choicest bits of the stalwart British progressive folk-rock band's career. The aptly named 50 for 50 sees Jethro Tull's longtime director of operations, Ian Anderson, deliver his picks, which range from instantly familiar classic rock radio staples "Aqualung" "Locomotive Breath," and "Cross-Eyed Mary" to later, more stylistically diverse offerings like "Steel Monkey" (from 1989's Grammy Award-winning Crest of a Knave) and the Middle Eastern-tinged "Rare and Precious Change" (from 1995's Roots to Branches). Anderson had 21 studio albums to pull from, and he manages to pay homage to every one of them -- the inclusion of two holiday offerings from the group's 2003 Christmas LP, their last official studio album, feels a bit extraneous. While 1971's triple-platinum-selling Aqualung yields the most fruit, Anderson bypasses some of the usual greatest-hits fodder in favor of a more comprehensive playlist that caters to the band's long and genre-juggling career, from the bluesy hard rock of "Beggar's Farm" and the bucolic English folk of "Salamander" to the garish synth rock of "Broadsword." For the average listener, any of the myriad single-disc excursions into the largely niche world of Jethro Tull should suffice, but for those looking to go a bit further down the rabbit hole, 50 for 50 offers up a lot more real estate to explore. [The three-disc set is also available as a condensed, 15-track collection titled 50th Anniversary Hits]. ~ James Christopher Monger
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